From the President: A Historic Occasion

December 22, 2020

Dear Sigma Xi members, sonya picture2

At the time of my writing this letter, two significant events have occurred. First, Sigma Xi has successfully executed its first virtual Annual Meeting and Student Research Showcase. This year’s meeting, titled Hacking the Brain: The Intersection of Art and Neuroscience, was a unique experience showcasing the artistic components and applications of scientific research.

The participation statistics were amazing! We had the highest number of participants in five years, including international participants from more than 10 countries. We had more than 300 student projects presented and over 45% of the presenters were women. We had the honor of presenting the Gold Key Award to Dr. Walter Massey, who had an outstanding conversation afterward with Kip Thorne, moderated by Joe Palca. We were entertained by award-winning science rapper Baba Brinkman and inspired by John P. McGovern Award winner and former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar. This year’s annual meeting also saw the fruition of past president Geraldine Richmond’s vision of Sigma Xi Fellows with the induction of the inaugural cohort. This would not have been possible without the conference sponsors, which included over more than 30 academic institutions and organizations. The Burroughs Welcome Fund lead the sponsorship of this conference. They are a longtime partner of Sigma Xi, and we appreciate their continued support. 

The second event that happened during our annual meeting is the announcement that Kamala Harris is set to become the first female Vice President of the United States. An alumna of Howard University, with a B.S. in economics, she has achieved a level of leadership for women unheard of in the history of the United States. Although not a scientist, she is a woman in STEM as defined by the National Science Foundation. More important, she represents a rapidly growing cadre of women in STEM who are rising to national and international leadership. 

I am sure that our conference participants and our award recipients would agree that this is a great time in our country, but also an uncertain time. With the foundations of Sigma Xi, companions in zealous research, we will solve the COVID-19 crisis, address climate change, and improve our society. Sigma Xi remains a force for truth in science, and we will continue to champion scientific research as we have done for the past 134 years.

Sonya Smith 
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society 


More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety